I am asking this question for somebody else.

Anyway, he is 16, and has just started 6th form. He has been looking for jobs all summer and still is, and has not been successful. He has applied to over 100 jobs and has excellent exam results:

GCSEs: 2 A*s in Maths and RS 7 As in Geography, History, Biology is Chemistry, Physics, English Literature and Computing. 1 B in English Language 1 C in French And 1 A grade in an AS subject.

He has done the Silver Duke of Edinburgh award, and helps out at the local youth club.

However, it is still impossible for him to get a job. This is his first job and has only done a week of work experience in a small startup company, so he doesn't really have any experience, and no employment history.

Anyway, from my last question, the general consensus of the answers is that the person needs to "Dumb Down" their CV, as for some reason that I simply cannot comprehend, employers often prefer the less smart workers, so then they will not leave and other things.

What are the best ways to do this without lying?

What is the best level to do this to?

TL;DR: How can you turn a CV from a good one to a bog-standard, exceedingly average one, without lying?

  • 3
    If you're trimming down what's in the bloated CV, I don't see how it would be lying. More like shaving the fat off.
    – Mark C.
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 18:56
  • 2
    Spelling and grammatical mistakes are a start.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 19:09
  • 1
    Related question.
    – enderland
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 19:31
  • 7
    @George - I think you took the wrong answer from that other question - the smart kid should be looking for a job that fits him, not trying to fit a job.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 22:27
  • 4
    Don't know what store you're talking about, but I worked in retail for years and we certainly never decided not to hire anyone who was 'too smart'. Certainly if their resume looked like they would leave soon that was a factor, but it had nothing to do with intelligence. Heck, they hired me, fresh out of a top-ten university...
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 2:54

4 Answers 4


Dumbing down is not the problem, and you shouldn't be turning 'good' CV into an 'average' one. What you need to do is:

Write the kind of CV that makes the employer want to hire the person.

To be specific, McDonald's does not care whether you got As in your GCSEs. Having an A does not make you a better McDonald's worker than someone who got a C or an E. But there are things they care about. For example:

  • Works well in teams
  • Easy to get on with
  • Friendly with good personal/customer skills
  • Hardworking
  • Reliable

So go and rewrite the CV to emphasise those things.

If the applicant has worked in customer service, write a paragraph on that. Give details of what they did volunteering at the local youth club, showing how hardworking, reliable and easy-to-work-with they are. If they organized a school club, write that down. Give the minimum amount of information on the things they won't care much about, like grades.

My neice, who recently gradated from an MMath programme, successfully got a job stacking shelves in Waitrose while waiting for her government research job to be finalized, so academic achievement is not a barrier in itself. But it took her a couple of tries to figure out what they wanted.


Are you sure this is the problem? I don't think that someone hiring a 16 yo for a part time job is going to even look at their scores. I understand Vietnhi's response on your other question, I just don't agree with it as it certainly doesn't match my own experience.

It's more about whether they present well, can easily be understood, appear eager and trainable, etc. Honestly, even having a CV at 16 is a bit of over kill. My point is, have you considered that something might be going wrong when s/he does get an interview? A few examples that would scuttle an opportunity include showing up looking like a thug, being late to the interview, smelling like smoke, visible tattoos (except at a tattoo parlor), etc. In other words, just for presentation they should appear like they are ready to be put in front of customers.

Also, depending on your local job market a lot of the lower end jobs can go really fast. This person might want to try and network with his/her friends a bit so they can find out about an opening the moment it's available.

Finally, getting back to the grades aspect. There is zero point in listing anything other than a GPA. No need to put that they got an A in Biology when applying for a job flipping burgers.

  • +1 for the answer, but what does GPA stand for?
    – George
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 20:13
  • 2
    Grade Point Average. I'm not sure what the UK equivalent is. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grading_(education)
    – NotMe
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 20:23
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    I agree with that. Don't put in any information that's not relevant to the prospective employer. You are looking for a low skilled job not applying for a scholarship. Definitely put in the academic achievement if you are going for say one of the internships that Intel offers to teenagers. Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 21:09

From the sounds of this and the previous question, your friend just wants a job - something to make money that won't lead to a career. If that's not the case, then your friend is applying to the wrong jobs. But to answer the question at hand...

The first way I can think of to simplify a CV is to just leave off the fluff. They don't need to know that your friend got the Silver Duke of Edinburgh award, and it's not wrong to not bring it up. You can't change your grades, but you can combine them into a single grade point average instead of breaking down every class.

But the real question that comes to mind is Are you sure you need a CV at all? When I was applying for summer jobs, I can't think of one that required a CV. All I did was fill out an application form and show up for a 10 minute interview. If your friend is supplying a CV when one isn't asked for, that would certainly make them think you're over qualified.

  • 3
    I suspect that Macdonalds is more interested in a DoE award than an A in Chemistry. Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 20:58

I would echo David K's answer, especially where he asks if you are sure you need a CV at all for this sort of work?

I'd also like to add that as your friend just seems to want to make some money over the short-term why not look at recruitment agencies and work as a temp?

I did this myself when I was 16 and in between school and college and although the jobs were quite mundane they served their purpose.

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